Whim W'Him's Choreographic Shindig III a brilliant evening of contemporary dance
by Sharon Cumberland - SGN A&E Writer
'Limitation Etudes: 7-10'
Choreography: Banning Bouldin in collaboration with Whim W'Him dancers
Music: Nils Frahm, Sagat and Joep Beving
The choreographer, Banning Bouldin, tells us in her program notes that these dances have emerged in response to the news that she is in the early stages of Multiple Sclerosis - a disease that may paralyze and blind her. What worse diagnosis could befall a person whose art is movement? And yet what wonderful meditations on the urge of the body to move in spite of every limitation. Using an array of props - bandages, ropes, giant rubber bands - the dancers express the full range of diminishing ranges, going from dancers who run frantically at the end of ropes that hold them in place, to dancers who are so entwined in bandages they can hardly move at all. In four movements we see representations of 'Perseverance,' 'Monologues on the theme of Mastery,' 'Resistance' and 'A Partnership on the theme of Assistance' - each dance placing obstacles of both apparatus and other dancers in the way of a central dancer who struggles to overcome or adapt to each barrier. While it's painful to watch these fabulous dancers with their lean, healthy bodies demonstrate the halting, angular, trembling limitations of illness, it is to Bouldin's credit that these meditations remain dance inventions at all times. Bouldin show us that dance can do what no other art can - embody a dilemma, a tragedy, a struggle, a hope - and make the viewer feel that progression in their own body as they watch. It's a brilliant response to a challenge that Bouldin is clearly answering with courage and talent. She credits the dancers as collaborators - and you can see how each person is forced to consider and respond to the possibility of losing their command of their own bodies. This is the most intimate and brave dance of the evening.
Whim W'Him is going from strength to strength and providing a forum for emerging choreographers to work with immensely talented dancers in creating unforgettable new works. Seattleites are uniquely fortunate to have this company, especially since it costs too much for Whim W'Him to take their company to other cities. I hope that in the future some dance-loving billionaire will help this great group to be seen in some of the important dance centers in the country and the world. It's time to share the joy!